A day in Toledo – Spain’s jewel

I visited Toledo in June 2019.

Toledo

To be honest I’d never actually heard of Toledo before arriving in Madrid but while wandering through Spain’s capital (which will feature in an upcoming blog post), seeing the number of advertisements for day trips to the world heritage listed city and after a quick google images search we decided that we HAD to visit!

We had friends who were flying out to Portugal that evening so decided to leave nice and early from our Airbnb and catch the train to Toledo but upon arriving at Madrid’s Atocha train station we discovered that the next 3 trains were all completely full so after some deliberation we decided to explore Madrid for the first part of the day and then abandon our Portugal bound homies and head to Toledo on the 1:50pm train. The return tickets cost 22 euro each (not fantastic but time wise it worked). Thankfully in June the days last until 10pm so we would have many hours to explore Toledo.

Leaving Madrid’s Atocha train station

After saying our goodbyes over tapas at El miniBAR (which I highly recommend), we headed back to Atocha train station and after clearing security we found our assigned seats onboard the AVANT high speed train and rocketed off towards Toledo. The train journey lasts about 30 minutes and you whisk past the suburbs of Madrid and out into the countryside before finally arriving at Toledo’s absolutely stunning train station just on the outskirts of town.

Toledo Station

Upon arriving we realised that A) the city was very hilly and B) our fitness levels were sorely lacking so after a quick bit of investigating we decided to hop onboard one of City Sightseeing’s big red double decker busses (you know the ones, they’re basically everywhere now). It was 18.50 euro (once again, not fantastically cheap) and the tour started by climbing up and around the hills surrounding the city and stopping at a few choice spots looking out and over Toledo.

One of the best vantage points to see Toledo

Toledo, I should probably now say is a UNESCO world heritage site dating back over 2000 years. It is called the ‘Imperial City’ as it was the home to the court of Charles V, the emperor of Rome and the ‘City of the Three Cultures’ due to its distinct Christian, Jewish and Muslim influences.

Place de Cervantes

Our first major stop was the Puente de San Martin – a medieval bridge dating back to the 14th century. We walked across its span a few times and up to a viewing platform on the city side. You can even zip-line across the river for 10 euro (we did not but it sure did look fun).

Puente de San Martin with the zip-line cables visible in the foreground

We then caught the bus further along the route and after climbing up and into the city we disembarked at the base of the imposing Alcazar de Toledo; an imposing stone fortress and the highest point in the city.

The Alcazar from the start of the bus tour

We then walked down through the narrow cobblestone streets and into the Plaza de Zocodover (the town square).

Plaza de Zocodover

Winding down through the town’s many maze-like corridors we walked through the Puerta del Sol; a medieval 14th century city gate. Further down the hill we stopped for some gelato which quickly melted due to the heat. We admired the Place de Cervantes and the old city wall before boarding the bus and returning to the top of the hill.

Puerta del Sol

That was honestly the biggest perk of the bus – you could hop off at the top of Toledo, make your way down to the bottom and then use it to save yourself some serious sweat to get back up again.

We returned to the Alcazar stop and this time set out to explore the western side of Toledo with stops at the Toledo Cathedral – a 13th century gothic cathedral and home to a sneaky little side entrance where you can see a decent view of the interior of the building without the 5.50 euro entry fee 😉

Inside Toledo Cathedral

After a quick trip to the cathedral, we meandered down the hill, past synagogues and museums about torture (yikes) before a quick look at the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes and its apparent corpse hanging over the front door and arriving back at the Puente de San Martin bridge.

Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes

After what felt like an eternity in the hot sun, the bus arrived and we travelled once again through Toledo and back down the hill to the train station.

Arriving back around 7:30pm, we had a snack at the small cafe at the eastern end of the train station, cleared security and boarded our train back to Madrid.

Eurogang say goodbye to Toledo

With its ancient buildings, walls and bridges, its stunning vistas and breathtaking beauty, Toledo might just be the most beautiful city I’ve visited yet… and it’ll be pretty tough to beat.

– JD’s Travels

The finer details:
– Train from Madrid Atocha – Toledo: 30 mins, 22 euro return with assigned seats
– City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Bus: 18.50 euro all day pass

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